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How These Ambassadors Are Teaching Acceptance for Autism Awareness Month

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We are approaching another April and Autism Awareness Month will be celebrated worldwide. It’s not without its controversy. Some feel the extra focus on awareness can only benefit those in the autism community. Others feel it does little to address the real issues of autistic people, such as independent living and employment. We see it as a time when the public and media are more open to talking about autism.

More than any other time of the year, we have an opportunity to change how the public thinks and acts towards autistic people.

The Women’s March showed us the power of grassroots advocacy — that each of us can get out into our communities to share our stories and help make a human connection to autism. We were moved by their advocacy, took action and created the Acceptance Ambassador Initiative.

Across the country, parents and teachers will be speaking to groups — their local schools, libraries, Boy and Girl Scout meetings, and homeschool co-ops — telling their stories. Here are a few of the reasons why they have joined our Acceptance Ambassador Initiative:

1.      “We are going to educate others about autism because we don’t want them to be afraid of it. Kids with autism are not so different. They just want to be loved and accepted just like everyone else.” – Cate (Mom) and Charlotte (Age 12) Luther

2.      “I think it’s important to get out in the community to help my son find his space in the community exactly as he is. And by talking about it to as many who will listen, I am helping more people see him as Ryan, not that boy with autism. I want to start with young people first because when you teach a child at a young age to see everyone as an individual they will be the change our world needs.” – Lee Ann Chergey

3.      “It’s important for me to raise awareness of the innate beauty, blessings and brilliance of neurodiversity. I want people to realize that we all have a purpose, a place, and we’re all important. My son Sawyer (age 6) sums it up best – ‘we’re all different.’ I don’t want autism to be stigmatized, and I want my son and all kids to be confident in themselves and their abilities.” – Mandi Mathis

4.      “It is important for teachers and autism advocates to get out in to the community to spread awareness, understanding and to dispel myths about individuals with autism. There are far too many widely believed stereotypes surrounding these individuals. It is my mission to get out there, and inspire change through teaching school professionals and parents how to best assist their children with autism.” – Trisha Katkin

5.      “We are going to schools in our community to put on “acceptance assemblies” for students and teachers. It’s been amazing to witness the interactions between us as autistics and the kids — so engaging and heartwarming. Schools and community groups are eager for this kind of interaction so we encourage everyone to get out there to advocate and educate!
James Sullivan and Jonathan Murphy

We all have a voice — autistic individuals, parents, educators, and professionals. We all need to be heard. And we all need to listen. It doesn’t matter if we don’t always agree. It’s more important that we hear one another as we openly share our fears, challenges and hopes with the people in our communities. We are very optimistic that together we can, and will, create positive futures for those on the autism spectrum.

We welcome you to join our mighty group of Acceptance Ambassadors. You’ll find more information at geekclubbooks/acceptance-ambassador.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Originally published: March 31, 2017
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